Walking Pneumonia: 101 For Parents
Have you heard the term walking pneumonia and wondered, What in the world?
Walking pneumonia is a common illness in children. You may also hear your doctor refer to it as atypical pneumonia. It is an infection of the lungs, but tends to be a less serious form than typical pneumonia.
Kids who have walking pneumonia often look pretty good. Instead of being sacked out on the couch, theyre up and walking aroundthats where the illness gets its name. However, it is caused by a bacteria and needs proper treatment in order to clear it up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Walking Pneumonia
Here are the questions I most often answer about walking pneumonia:
What Is The Recovery Period For Walking Pneumonia
It takes a period of three weeks for walking pneumonia to completely resolve but if there is severe coughing problem, it may take longer. Your age and health status also influences your recovery period from walking pneumonia.
For severe cases of walking pneumonia, it is necessary to ensure timely treatment and elimination of symptoms. This not only helps in faster recovery, but also reduces the time span during which the walking pneumonia infection is contagious. It is important to take necessary care and prevention from walking pneumonia infections during the recovery period, to prevent other infections or worsening of walking pneumonia, which is already being treated. With proper care, timely treatment the recovery period of walking pneumonia may be around three weeks under normal circumstances.
Treatment For Walking Pneumonia
Atypical pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection of the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. Some people with this condition have mild symptoms, but will feel tired and have a cough. If your doctor suspects walking pneumonia, he/she will order a chest x-ray, which is the standard of care for diagnosing pneumonia. The doctor will also perform a physical examination and take a medical history.
The onset of walking pneumonia is gradual, with an incubation period of 1-4 weeks after exposure. During the later stages of the illness, symptoms worsen, and fever becomes higher. Coughing may yield discolored sputum also. The treatment for atypical pneumonia is a cycline antibiotic, such as doxycycline, or a macrolide antibiotic, such as azithromycin.
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Is Walking Pneumonia Contagious If So How Is It Spread And Who Is Most At Risk
Yes, walking pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae is contagious . When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the bacteria become airborne and can be inhaled by others who are nearby.
The infection can be easily spread in crowded or shared living spaces such as homes, schools, dormitories and nursing homes. It tends to affect younger adults and school-aged children more than older adults.
The risk of getting more severe pneumonia is even higher among those who have existing respiratory conditions such as:
The symptoms of walking pneumonia may come on slowly, beginning one to four weeks after exposure. During the later stages of the illness, symptoms may worsen, the fever may become higher, and coughing may bring up discolored phlegm .
What Causes Walking Pneumonia In A Child
Viruses or bacteria can cause walking pneumonia. The most common cause of the illness in school-aged children is the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It also causes bronchitis and chest colds.
M. pneumoniae can spread easily among children. That is especially true when they are in close contact with one another, such as in the same household, at school, or at a camp. The germ can spread through airborne droplets from sneezing, coughing, or talking. It is most often spread in the fall and winter.
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How To Diagnose Pneumonia In The Elderly
There are tests that can be done to tell if an elderly person has pneumonia. The doctor can simply listen to the individuals lungs for rattling sounds and rales that are typical of pneumonia and lung inflammation. A chest x-ray or CT scan will show areas of pneumonia, called consolidation. A pulse oximetry test checks for the level of oxygen in the system, which tends to be lower if the person has pneumonia. In some cases, the mucus or blood can be cultured to identify the specific organism that is causing the pneumonia.
Walking Pneumonia After Antibiotics
There can be several factors that may lead to walking pneumonia, including viruses, fungi, bacteria, inhaled food, chemicals, toxins, smoke and others. Walking pneumonia caused by viruses and bacteria is contagious, and that caused by other factors is not.
The disease is contagious for around 2-3 days after starting taking antibiotics. But if you start the antibiotic treatment immediately after the onset of symptoms, the contagious time frame reduces further.
After diagnosis of the walking pneumonia, the doctor will give certain dose of antibiotics to the patient. If the patient suddenly stops the medicines or does not follow the doctors instructions religiously, then some germs may still linger in his or her respiratory tract, and lead to communication. While he or she coughs or sneezes, the germs are thrown out into the atmosphere and they victimize the nearby people.
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Spreading Pneumonia To Others
If your pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria, you may spread the infection to other people while you are contagious. How long you are contagious depends on what is causing the pneumonia and whether you get treatment. You may be contagious for several days to a week.
If you get antibiotics, you usually cannot spread the infection to others after a day of treatment.
What Can Cause Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia is described as a mild case of pneumonia by few people. Some doctors usually call it atypical pneumonia because it will not cause more severe symptoms.
Lung infection is a common sign often of being blamed. Lots of things can cause it, including:
Walking pneumonia usually is caused due to bacteria called Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Whats The Treatment Like For Pneumonia In Older Adults
Some cases of pneumonia in older adults can be treated at home. However, depending on your symptoms and overall health, its also possible that you may be hospitalized.
Antibiotics are used to treat pneumonia thats caused by bacteria. The types of antibiotics used can depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection and on the infections severity. They may be given orally or .
Some examples of antibiotics used for pneumonia can include one or a combination of the following:
Viruses cant be treated with antibiotics.
Treatment of viral pneumonia focuses on supportive care, such as easing symptoms, maintaining hydration, and monitoring vital signs. In some cases, antiviral drugs may be used.
In the case of the flu, an antiviral, such as Tamiflu, may be prescribed.
Causes Of Walking Pneumonia
Walking pneumonia can be caused by viruses or bacteria. According to the American Lung Association, most cases are caused by M. pneumoniae, a common type of bacteria that usually affects children and adults under the age of 40. M. pneumoniae infections tend to peak in summer and early fall but can happen throughout the year.
Chlamydophila pneumoniae can also cause walking pneumonia. Infections from this type of bacteria are common in all four seasons. It often spreads in crowded environments, like college dorms and long-term care facilities.
Adults and children can also contract walking pneumonia from viruses. Respiratory syncytial virus is a frequent cause of walking pneumonia in young kids, while adults tend to get the viral form of the disease from the influenza virus.
How Effective Is Ciprofloxacin For Pneumonia
The effectiveness of taking ciprofloxacin for pneumonia largely depends on the particular bacterial strain causing the ailment. Ciprofloxacin, commonly called Cipro®, belongs to the fluoroquinolone group of antibiotics, which are frequently used to treat respiratory infections because of the wide range of bacterial organisms they destroy. Quinolones are not effective against fungal or viral infections, however. Ciprofloxacin can produce a number of side effects and has been associated with an increased risk of tendinitis or tendon rupture.
According to research, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae cause the majority of pneumonia cases. Studies indicate that ciprofloxacin is only effective against these bacterial strains if they are not penicillin or methicillin resistant. It is effective, however, against many other bacteria causing pneumonias, including Haemophilius influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Besides prescribing ciprofloxacin for pneumonia, physicians use ciprofloxacin for sinusitis, skin and structural infections, bone and joint infections, and urinary tract infections. This medication is also used to treats anthrax and typhoid infections.
Homecare For Walking Pneumonia
Once you see a healthcare provider, home treatment is important for your pneumonia recovery. The following measures will help you recover and avoid any complications. These include:
- Get plenty of rest, so the bodys immune system can recharge
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent/rectify dehydration
- Frequent coughing and deep breathing, to get oxygen to the lower lungs and remove secretions
- Take over-the-counter fever reducers
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How Is Mycoplasma Spread
Mycoplasma is spread through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of infected people especially when they cough and sneeze. Transmission is thought to require prolonged close contact with an infected person. Spread in families, schools and institutions occurs slowly. The contagious period is probably fewer than 10 days and occasionally longer.
Causes Of Atypical Pneumonia
Three specific infectious bacteria cause the majority of atypical pneumonia cases:
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae usually infects people under 40 with mild pneumonia symptoms. It commonly causes earaches, headaches, and a sore throat, as well.
- Chlamydophila pneumoniae is common in school-aged children and young adults.
- Legionella pneumophila is more severe, generally, and seen most often in older adults, people who smoke, and those with weakened immune systems. It is also called Legionnairesâ disease.
Rare cases of atypical pneumonia are caused by the bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci, which is contracted from infected birds, such as parrots, parakeets, and poultry.
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Risk Factors For Community
CAP is the most common type of pneumonia. It develops outside of the hospital. Each year 2 to 4 million people in the US develop CAP, and 600,000 are hospitalized. Older people, infants, and young children are at greatest risk for the disease.
Chronic Lung Disease
Chronic obstructive lung disease , which includes long-term bronchitis and emphysema, affects 15 million people in the US. This condition is a major risk factor for pneumonia. Long-term use of corticosteroid inhalers may increase the risk of pneumonia in people with COPD. People with other types of chronic lung diseases, such as bronchiectasis and interstitial lung diseases, are also at increased risk for getting pneumonia and more likely to have complications.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi, the main air passages to the lungs. It generally follows a viral respiratory infection. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and fatigue.
People With Compromised Immune Systems
People with impaired immune systems are extremely susceptible to pneumonia. It is a common problem in people with HIV and AIDS. A wide variety of organisms, including P jiroveci, Myobacterium species, Histoplasma capsulatum, Coccidioides immitis, Aspergillus species, cytomegalovirus, and Toxoplasma gondii, can cause pneumonia.
In addition to AIDS, other conditions that compromise the immune system include:
- Adult and pediatric cancers, such as leukemia and Hodgkin lymphoma
- Organ transplantation
How Is Pneumonia Treated
When you get a pneumonia diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia you have, how sick you are feeling, your age, and whether you have other health conditions. The goals of treatment are to cure the infection and prevent complications. It is important to follow your treatment plan carefully until you are fully recovered.
Take any medications as prescribed by your doctor. If your pneumonia is caused by bacteria, you will be given an antibiotic. It is important to take all the antibiotic until it is gone, even though you will probably start to feel better in a couple of days. If you stop, you risk having the infection come back, and you increase the chances that the germs will be resistant to treatment in the future.
Typical antibiotics do not work against viruses. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to treat it. Sometimes, though, symptom management and rest are all that is needed.
Most people can manage their symptoms such as fever and cough at home by following these steps:
If your pneumonia is so severe that you are treated in the hospital, you may be given intravenous fluids and antibiotics, as well as oxygen therapy, and possibly other breathing treatments.
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Is There A Vaccine For Pneumonia
There isnt a vaccine for all types of pneumonia, but 2 vaccines are available. These help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The first is recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age. The second is recommended for anyone age 2 or older who is at increased risk for pneumonia. Getting the pneumonia vaccine is especially important if you:
- Are 65 years of age or older.
- Have certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell disease, or cirrhosis.
- Have a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, a damaged or removed spleen, a recent organ transplant, or receiving chemotherapy.
- Have cochlear implants .
The pneumococcal vaccines cant prevent all cases of pneumonia. But they can make it less likely that people who are at risk will experience the severe, and possibly life-threatening, complications of pneumonia.
Best Antibiotic For Walking Pneumonia
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
The diagnosis and management of atypical pneumonia is often difficult because laboratory results are not always immediately available, hence clinical acumen is necessary. The infection is best managed by an interprofessional team that includes an emergency department physician, infectious disease consultant, nurse practitioner, internist, radiologist, and a pharmacist. Because diagnosis is often delayed, one should never delay treatment if atypical pneumonia is suspected. The pharmacist should educate the patient on medication compliance and the importance to have the annual flu vaccine. Nurses should closely monitor patients for respiratory distress, nutrition, and mental status changes. If the patients are managed as outpatients, an infectious disease nurse should follow the patients in a clinic to ensure that recovery is occurring.
The majority of patients are managed as outpatients without sequelae. However, some atypical pneumonia may not follow the usual course and may result in severe symptoms, which require admission. To avoid the morbidity and mortality, it is important to follow these patients until full resolution of symptoms is obtained. Close communication between the interprofessional team is vital to obtain improved outcomes.
What Is Walking Pneumonia In Children
Walking pneumonia is a type of lung infection. It is a mild form of pneumonia that can be life threatening for some people. Children with walking pneumonia may feel very tired and run down. But they may still be able to do many of their normal daily activities. The illness is rare in children younger than 5 years old.
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What Are The Main Differences Between Bacterial And Viral Pneumonia
Common symptoms of pneumonia include3
- difficulty breathing
- increased breathing rate
When a patient presents with these symptoms, the next step is to examine the lungs with a stethoscope. With pneumonia, decreased breath sounds, wheezing, or crackles on listening to the lungs, are all indications that can help point towards a diagnosis. The next step is to order a radiograph or X-ray if pneumonia is suspected.
The radiograph still remains the reference standard for a medical diagnosis of pneumonia, and also helps to differentiate between bacterial and viral pneumonia. However, a combination of clinical symptoms, exam findings, and imaging is the best way to uncover the most likely culprit.3,4
Can Pneumonia Be Prevented
Check with your healthcare provider about getting immunizations. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia. Because of that, getting a flu shot every year can help prevent both the flu and pneumonia.
There is also a pneumococcal vaccine. It will protect you from a common form of bacterial pneumonia. Children younger than age 5 and adults ages 65 and older should get this shot.
The pneumococcal shot is also recommended for all children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease due to other health conditions.